Joe Biden to publicly address Tara Reade sexual assault claims

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Presidential candidate has so far been silent on the matter

World | The Independent

Joe Biden will publicly address an allegation of sexual assault for the first time in an appearance on morning television on Friday, after weeks of silence on the issue that had prompted frustration from Democrats and attacks from Republicans seeking to weaken him for a general election contest against Donald Trump.

Mr Biden will discuss the allegation on Morning Joe on MSNBC, according to a Twitter post from the network. The decision followed intensive discussions in the Biden campaign about how to more forcefully confront the allegation.

The planned appearance came as scrutiny of the allegation intensified along partisan lines on Capitol Hill on Thursday. Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker and the Democratic Party’s highest-ranking member of Congress, expressed support for Mr Biden’s presidential bid while Republicans weaponised the accusation to attack congressional Democrats as hypocritical.

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The allegation Mr Biden will address was made by a former aide in his Senate office, Tara Reade, who has said Mr Biden assaulted her in a Senate building in 1993. Mr Biden’s campaign has said the accusation is not true, but the former vice president himself had not addressed the issue publicly. His silence has raised questions among some Democrats about the agility of his campaign operation and its ability to navigate what is widely expected to be a heated and deeply divisive presidential campaign this fall.

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As the clamour around the allegations rose Thursday, Ms Pelosi sought to calm anxious Democrats during her weekly news conference, calling Mr Biden a person of “great integrity” and saying that there were no records or additional witnesses corroborating the account.

Her comments came as Republicans expanded their attacks against Mr Biden, the party’s presumptive nominee, calling the party hypocritical on issues of sexual violence, harassment and gender inequality. They also compared the way Democrats have responded to Ms Reade’s allegation with their response to accusations of sexual assault in 2018 against Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

Already, the Trump campaign has signalled that it plans to make the allegation against Mr Biden a central part of its campaign narrative, accusing him in a memo sent on Wednesday of “misrepresenting news reports and his own past positions in an effort to put controversies to bed or to level charges against the president”.

The New York Times

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